Free-Range Helicoptering with Detachment Parenting
I don’t consider myself being the so-called “helicopter” parent, you know, the kind that is always hovering over and around his/her kids. But I can be loud and fast like one, popping out of nowhere as in an action movie scene and having the same ability to take off unexpectedly if needed. I also don’t fit in the free-range parenting category. I think the world has its dangers and there is a fine line between being bold and being exposed to risky situations. I try, though, to make my kids (ages 7 and 9) think before asking for help (obviously not if it’s an emergency) or making decisions. It’s a fact that I know more about the world than them. “Can you try to make it work first without asking for my help?”, “Oh, do you want one of that? You go there and ask for one then” Or “Oh, I know you are hungry but I needed to go to the bathroom… Grab a banana. ” I’m an available parent most of the time but don’t confuse this as a do-it-all, especially when they can do something by themselves. They just don’t WANT to do it. Sometimes I refuse to do something on purpose, knowing that I am helping them this way.
In my opinion we need to support a child’s attempt to be independent, to take initiative but also to be kind and resourceful. I love bonding, nurturing, being silly, having a conversation but I am not a convenient store. I believe I shouldn’t drop whatever I am doing every time they want me. If I do, I could compromise seriously my task at hand. Burning dinner is the least of my worries, believe me but, still, I shouldn’t let it happen because the lego toy must be found at that precise moment. Well, the world won’t do any favors to the children, after all! And sometimes (or often) I’m tired, nervous or we are running late etc and I am not feeling peachy. Should I always be ready for them? The truth is, I can’t. I try to be my best but sometimes I think my best doesn’t cover it or my best is out somewhere else or hiding. To my credit, I let them know that. I have no super-hero persona. There are day that I’m weak, loud, lost, intransigent, incorrect, impatient, intolerant, vulnerable; I use the wrong words, I don’t have answers, I make mistakes… However, I admit all that. I apologize, I ask for patience… I’m real. Painfully and disarmingly and pitifully real. But I am real. I take responsibility of my flaws and failures. On the other hand, there are awesome days when I am fully there for my children. I make them laugh, I dance, I listen, I hug, I kiss, I sing, I read with and for them. I am there to help, to encourage, take them to places, to show a bit the world. I feel for them, I fear for them. I embrace them as who they really mean to me: my treasures. And I show them my love more than anything.
I understand and respect the free-range parenting and the detachment parenting styles. They both have the child as the main focus. It’s not my business to criticize or tell a parent how to raise their kids. Each parenting tribe offers something valuable. I don’t know what kind of parent I am and I don’t think it matters. We are all supposed to be imperfect. For me, as long as we love our children unconditionally and they know it, and we teach them that there are consequences for all the actions, that’s the path I chose to take. I feel I am a project in the making, anyway. Like them. What I know is that one can’t unlearn being a parent, meaning one can’t get worse (unless you are already so unfit for the job that’s uncanny how you deserved the position in the first place).
So, as we all evolve as individuals, parenting should follow. We grow out of some insecurities and dilemmas… just to be presented with new ones. In the meantime it’s better to enjoy the ride. There will never be a dull moment, there will never be one with some many challenges but, overall, it’s worth every bit of it. Better be, as we will blame ourselves anyway when something goes wrong…